March 20, 2011

Buying Cuban Cigars

Is that a real Cuban? That is a question that will often be asked when buying a Cuban cigar. Depending on if you buy a single stick or a box, there are several things you can do to tell if it is or is not. When looking at the cigar, look at the cap. Is the cap triple cap? If it isn't, then it is not Cuban. The triple cap should have three lines running parallel to one another at the top of the cigar. Notice picture below, three lines/caps at the top of the cigar.
Numbers represent caps
 Besides the cigar, the box is the best place to look. On all Cuban cigar boxes, they will have the Habanos chevron, a diagnol sticker on the top of the box that is white with a gold line slightly on the edge at the bottom and top and between that it will have a tobacco leaf in black, and next to it in writing it will have Habanos in red with yellow outline. Below in black writing it will say Denomacion de Origen Protegida. Sometimes, next to Habanos will be an abbreviation D.O.P, that is not always present though. Notice picture below.
Habanos
On all Cuban cigar boxes there is a warranty seal as well. Prior to 2009 there was no bar code on it, but that changed, so for any cigar box from 2009 onwards you should see a bar code. The bar code can be divided into four ways. There can be a straight 12 digits, 5 digits - bar - 7 digits, 6 digits - bar - 6 digits, and finally 1 digits space 5 digits - bar - 7 digits. You can test this code at the Habanos website to check if it an authentic box code as well. I have attached the link, Habanos Stamp Verification. Now, I have been in a La Casa del Habano and bought Cubans from a box code and it has come back fraud. It is not entirely accurate but they are working their best on it. See picture below.
Warranty Seal
Now looking at the warranty seal under a black light you should see a picture of the shield of Cuba as well. I know most people don't carry around black lights, but this is what it looks like.  Also, the warranty seal should be on the left side of where you are opening the box of cigars. Whether it is a cabinet or dress box, it will be on the left side of opening, and typically go through the shield's center.
Black Light
Warranty Seal
Underneath the box, there will be several things to look for. Pressed into the box, should be wrriten Habanos s.a. HECHO EN CUBA Totalament a mano. It will in three lines and pressed in. Underneath that is a stamp of when the cigars were boxed and the factory code. Now the factory code is always changing, and they do this for several reasons. Habanos s.a. was getting tired of retailers sending back boxes from certain factories because they were not made as well as other factories and also to prevent fraud. See picture below.
Bottom of box
Inside the box, there are several things you can notice. With all Cuban cigars, they should have an internal notice that talks about the temperature and humidity to keep the cigars at. The languages in order are Spanish, English, French, and German. Along with that, some cigars will have a sleeve that separates the two layers or covers the cigars, there will be a groove on the top right corner and it will either be crescent shape or a straight line.
Habanos Notice
Sleeves
Now if you buy Cohiba's you have to look out for a few things. All Cohiba cigars comes in a cardboard box where the warranty seal is and the boxed date is placed. The bottom of a box of Cohiba's will not have a box date on them, and should not have a warranty seal on them. Now, if the box of Cohiba's has a folding lid and not a slide open lid, it will have a hinge that Habanos is engraved in. See below.
Hinge
Along with that, Cohiba cigars have a special leaflet on the insides beside the traditional one which tells you why Cohiba cigars are special. They aren't anymore special than others though, just more expensive.
Cohiba leaflet
That covers the basic on buying Cuban cigars, don't freak out too much though. That being said, probably the best place to buy authentic Cuban cigars is from a La Casa del Habano store. Do research through. If you are going abroad, take a look at where you can buy Cuban cigars in the city. If there is a La Casa del Habano go there, and if not look into the authenticity of other options. Don't buy Cuban cigars off the street, and if the store is nice and not sketchy you are probably safe. Enjoy! I have attached a link to see where La Casa del Habano locations are.  La Casa del Habano Franchise Search

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